A Mother’s Love: Essays and Poems Exploring Grief and Loss
a folio curated by JP Howard
Sonia Jaffe Robbins
I am writing this introductory essay to this folio exploring a mother’s love on the two year anniversary of my own mother’s passing. Two years into this great loss, I am still remembering, gathering, celebrating, mourning, and holding on to pieces of Mama. Some days she enters my poems and essays and when I turn the page, Mama is there guiding me. Other days I fear I will forget the sound of Mama’s sweet voice saying “Hey babygirl, how was your day?” When we lose someone who is literally a part of our heart, we continue to work through our grief and loss over time. This time of year, filled with holidays and family celebrations and gatherings, can be a trigger for those of us processing our grief, while everyone around us is going about the business of living and loving.
My own writing community, Women Writers in Bloom Poetry Salon, is filled with writers and friends who have experienced great loss these last few years. Since last December, we have lost three dear friends, all members of our Salon, poets Monica Hand, Jayne A. Pierce and Esther Louise. Each of these women were not only talented poets, but also fierce Mamas to their children. I am grateful we have their poems and our memories, yet I know that their families and our writing community will always miss them. So many of us have had to deal with the heartbreaking loss of a child, parent, spouse or significant other, either recently or years ago. As writers, it is nearly impossible for us to experience these losses without it also affecting our writing process. I have invited six amazing women writers to reflect on their own experiences with grief and loss for this special folio. These writers are all mothers; some have written about losing their own mothers, while others have written about losing their only child. Each piece is exquisite in its honesty and filled with love and often longing. By sharing the particular pain of losing a child or losing a mother and reflecting on the love that endures, each writer allows us a glimpse into their healing process.
I want to take this opportunity to praise each of our contributors to this folio. I recognize that it was an incredibly challenging and tremendously personal task. I see reflections of myself in their stories as I continue to work through my own loss and I am grateful for the gift of their words. Over time, artist Amber Flame learns to “feel” as she processes her mother’s death, “I am choosing to feel it all, feel it deeply.’ While novelist Breena Clarke shows us the healing power of writing as she processes her only child’s sudden death in her stunning essay “I started to write regularly and purposefully because doing so was palliative as well as rewarding. I simply felt better, less sore. Writing was soothing.” Poet, Cheryl Boyce-Taylor, in her extraordinary zuihitsu poem about the loss of her only child, explores how we sometimes hold fiercely onto our grief: “I eat and eat from the table of loss finally when it’s all gone I want more / afraid to live with/without it miss the daily discipline of tears as company / miss the scorch loss brings to my face…..” Regina Jamison’s poetry explores death as a literal disconnect: My mother’s death / severed us from her like a heavy metal door. Lynne Connor, writer, workshop facilitator and a new mother herself, moves from initial grief over her mother’s death towards affirmation, in her nuanced essay: “But the flip side of loss, of being lost, is acceptance. I come from the land of not enough. From shame and unknowns. But my daughter will come from full disclosure.” Editor Sonia Jaffe Robbins learns how to be a different type of mother to her own daughter, as she reflects on how her mother walked through the world: “From her, I learned to keep my feelings hidden even from myself. Writing helps me let them escape. I talk to my daughter in ways I never did with my mother.” There is often a learning and a clarity that ebbs and flows over time when we lose loved ones. Thank you Cheryl, Breena, Regina, Lynne, Amber, and Sonia for allowing us on this journey with you in these remarkable contributions.
JP Howard with her Mom Ruth King ~ two Leo Divas smiling